Burn Down Top 10 Lists: Where the Intro is better than the whole thing

10 Movies/Tv show/books that are worth it just for the opening scene.

Some shows you just want to put on to watch that amazing opening sequence and then turn it off. Its not that the rest is terrible, its just that the opening scene is so good, its worthy to be watched on its own.

1. The Simpsons, “Much Apu About Nothing”

The main plot of this episode concerns Apu trying to stay in Springfield despite being an illegal immigrant in the wake of Prop 24, which would kick out all illegal immigrants. It has some nice scenes of Apu trying to get fake IDs and Homer trying to teach Apu so he can pass the citizenship test. But this episode stands apart for the opening sequence that is, as Homer puts it, like a country bear jamberoo.

With such great lines as: “Let the bears pay the bear tax, I pay the Homer tax,” “Arrest him on account of being a bear. And arrest him on account of being accessory to being a bear,” “Won’t somebody please think of the children!” and Lisa’s rock that keeps tigers away. The whole episode up to the actual plot is some of the best Simpsons work. Of course, the rest of the episode may be worth watching simply for the references in the newspaper to the Bear Patrol escalating bombing.


2. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”

I think as Brett put it, “I don’t want to see Temple of Doom, I want to see the movie before it!” The whole “Anything Goes” musical number, and Indy dealing with the Chinese gangsters in Club Obi Wan provides some great urban noir that viewers rarely get with Dr. Jones. Plus, “The poison that you just drank!” has worked its way into cultural a priori knowledge so well, its hard to deny that this opening sequence is not better than the rest of the movie. Bonus points: Short Round.

Note: I can’t include Raiders on this list. While the opening scene is fantastic, the rest of the film is certainly worthy on its own. You can’t just turn on Raiders and not watch the rest. Its too good.


3. “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”This may be a stretch in the definition of “opening scene,” but the fight on Jabba’s barge is the ultimate high point of this film. Nothing beats the musical buildup to Luke giving the high sign right as he walks the plank.

After it, what’s left? Ewoks? Another Death Star battle? Sure, “Its a trap!” is fun, as is the Emperor, but overall the rest of this film is very skippable.


4. Futurama, “Bender’s Big Score”With a drawn out plot and sub-par musical numbers, this return of Futurama was a mixed blessing to fans. Great to see Futurama return. But not up to its best work. However, the opening sequence mocking its cancellation and an extended Futurama theme intro are enough to make anyone vomit in joy from both their freshwater and saltwater stomachs.

Note: Family Guy, “North by North Quahog”: This episode was Family Guy’s return after cancellation. Like Futurama, it had an opening sequence that mocked its cancellation. In a traditional Family Guy pop-culture reference, Peter listed every show that Fox had brought on and subsequently cancelled between Family Guy’s death and resurrection. While a funny bit, the rest of the episode is surprisingly good, especially the clip from “Passion of the Christ II: Crucify This!” The difference in the good to bad ratio between the opening and the rest of the episode is not enough to merit it a place on this list.


5. & 6. Any episode Digimon or Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesYou probably have fond memories of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, and may be tempted to go back and watch some old episodes. Don’t. It is terrible. The new iterations of the show are pretty good, but the old one is so puerile and just plain dumb, its no wonder that it was such a big hit among 8-year-olds everywhere. But you just cannot deny that theme song. Yes, Splinter did teach them to be ninja teens. If only he taught the writers how to make a show for kids that was actually worthy of such a fantastic intro.

Digimon falls into the same category. Crazy coked-out, pseduo-techno intro theme. Crappy Pokemon ripoff of a show. So after they change into digital champions to save the digital world, change the digital channel.

Notes: Any episode of Cowboy Bebop may seem to fit here, too. However, the freakin’ amazing into credits don’t utterly transcend the rest of the show, like with Digimon or TMNT, but transition into it. Perhaps this would fit if there was one really bad Cowboy Bebop episode, but there isn’t. And that’s the real folk blues.


7. Muppets from Space

The most recent Muppet movie to be released in theaters, Muppets from Space was a slight letdown. It didn’t have the knowing comedy or fantastic musical numbers from previous muppet movies except the opening scene. This movie opens by following Kermit the Frog through the Muppets’ house, introducing every character in traditional wackiness before slowly transitioning into a song and dance rendition of Brick House.  But the rest of the movie is about as good as one of Fozzie’s jokes. Wakka wakka, this is not.


8. Star Trek: InsurrectionEasily the weakest of all Trek films, except maybe the crappy 5th one that Shatner directed, Insurrection has low quality action and is just the sort of boring Federation politicking that the reboot entirely jettisoned, to much aplomb. (I don’t think I used aplomb correctly there). However, the opening Data freakout and subsequence chase, complete with HMS Pinafore musical number, is entertaining enough to be watched on its own, without having to put up with the rest of the film.

Notes: Star Trek: The Final Frontier also opens with a small adventure and musical number, with Kirk, Bones, and Spock singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Alas, it is nowhere near as entertaining as Insurrection. Life is not a dream.


9. Lolita

Light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul, the end. Really, all you need is that opening ephebophiliatic adulation of a gross 12-year-old. Sure, maybe buddy road trip sex romps across the great USA were a new and impressive thing back in the 50s. But now, boooring! Its been done. Finish the intro and high-five Nabokov, you’ve basically read the greatest book of all time.


10. This listReally, you should have stopped after the first one. The rest kinda sucks. I really had to struggle to make it an even 10.


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